Animal Totem Art Reading: Bear Goddess

The bear is a powerful animal, and carries powerful symbolism as well. They have a reputation for being unpredictable. People with bear energy may be a bit (or a lot) eccentric, and may have diverse interests. The latter is reflected as well by the bear’s diet. Bears are omnivores and will eat nearly anything. They are equally willing to forage, scavenge or hunt, depending on the situation. Keeping a positive, resourceful attitude and taking what life offers is a wonderful lesson Bear can bring.

Did you enjoy this post? Anne

Animal totem art reading: Bear goddessSo I have been doing these drawings lately. I hold a person in my mind, and close my eyes, and before long images will appear to me, and I get them down on paper.

I think I’ve been doing this kind of thing for most of my life. It’s called art. ūüôā

Seriously, though, after several many years of painting and drawing things out of my head it dawned on me that hey, I think these images have meaning. About two years or so after doing a painting I’d look back and realize what it signified.

After even more years it started getting easier to interpret the symbols and images that appeared to me. It’s a lot like dreaming on paper. After a while you learn to interpret your ‘dreams’, and if you pay attention, you will find that your dreams (or in my case, my drawings) become a series of guideposts to help¬†in navigating through life.

Anyway, as I mentioned, lately I’ve started doing these for people I know.¬†One day I just sat down and held my dad in my thoughts, and this is what came out.

I won’t go into what it might mean for him, because that is his business, but I can tell a bit about the general symbols involved, in case they resonate with anyone else out there.

Bear Animal Totem

The bear is a powerful animal, and carries powerful symbolism as well. Bears¬†have a reputation for being unpredictable. People with bear energy may be a bit (or a lot) eccentric, and may have diverse interests. The latter is reflected as well by the bear’s diet. Bears are omnivores and will eat nearly anything. They are equally willing to forage, scavenge or hunt, depending on the situation. Keeping a positive, resourceful attitude and taking what life offers is a wonderful lesson Bear can bring.

Another important lesson we can learn from Bear is to respect one’s¬†natural cycles of rest and activity. Bears don’t experience true hibernation¬†in the winter¬†(their body temperatures don’t go low enough and they can be awakened),¬†but they do hole up in their dens and experience a sort of “hibernation light.” Incredibly, they can go more than 3 months without food, water, or bathroom breaks. People with a Bear totem may experience cycles of ups and downs, or periods of intense creativity or activity interspersed with unproductive periods. This is normal for them, and being aware of their natural creative cycles and learning to honor and respect them can help Bear people overcome the pressure society sometimes puts on people to go, go, go. Everyone needs a break, and sometimes a deep rest is needed in order to prepare oneself for high accomplishments.

Bears are excellent mothers and bears are often associated with protective nurturing. Another interesting quality of bears that relates to creativity is delayed implantation. Bears mate in summer, but the embryos don’t implant in the female’s womb until late fall before she dens. If she hasn’t gained enough fat over the summer, they won’t implant and she won’t have cubs that year. Bear people may experience delays between initial inspiration and actually taking creative action. They may also need to pay special attention to¬†“putting their own oxygen mask on first.”¬†Taking care of oneself first ensures that you will have enough energy to meet everyone’s needs.

Bears aren’t pack animals¬†like wolves, but they do interact with each other, and they do develop social hierarchies. Attitude seems to be the determining factor when it comes to bear dominance. They prefer to use posturing and intimidation to make their point rather than resorting to a fight. However, if a bear does get pushed to its limit, watch out!

Bear Goddess

The Bear has had special spiritual significance since Neolithic times. It is the sacred animal of Artio, the Celtic goddess of wildlife, who is thought to be the precursor to the Greek goddess Artemis (or Diana in the Roman tradition), also associated with the Bear. Artemis is best known as the goddess of the hunt, but was also goddess of wild things and protector of young women. She was supposed to have asked her father, Zeus, to allow her to remain always a maiden, a request which he granted.

A Bear person may not find it easy to stay in a conventional relationship. However, Bear energy is wonderful for connecting with one’s true (wild) nature, or nurturing one’s inner child.

Moon Symbolism

When I first drew this image, I saw the orb in the figure’s hand as glowing with light. It struck me as being connected with the light of knowledge. I think it may be a moon image as well. The moon is another symbol of the goddess Diana. Like the bear, the moon goes through cycles, waxing and waning in power and influence. It is also closely connected with feminine power. I think in this image the moon serves to amplify the energies of the bear and the goddess. In general, the moon is associated with emotions and intuition. The message I got for this particular one, however, is one of a strong intellect – perhaps giving power and focus to intuition. (An example of how an individual’s symbols can sometimes over-ride, underscore or vary from¬†universal symbolism.)


I hope you have enjoyed this interpretation, and if you are working with any of these symbols in your own life, I hope it was helpful! Keep in mind that any particular symbol can have multiple meanings, so if my interpretation doesn’t quite resonate with you, it doesn’t mean the symbol isn’t relevant to you. Keep searching! Some sources that may be helpful include:

  • Avia’s What’s Your Sign website – one of my favorite resources for looking up the meanings of all kinds of animal totems and other symbols
  • Ted’s Andrews’ excellent book Animal Speak

Or, you might want to study up on bears and their behavior and come to your own conclusions. Here are some good links to start with:

Thanks also to¬†Granny Moon’s Goddess School¬†for information on the Bear Goddess Artio!


Have you worked with bear energy? Please feel free to share your insights!


(P.S. I have a bunch more of these I’ve done for various people, and will post them as I find the time. I’m also planning to do a painting based on this particular drawing, so stay tuned!)


Did you enjoy this post? Anne

Angel in progress – digital illustration

This is my second attempt at this piece. Many more layers to go. The falcon at the top is still just sketched in.

I’ve had several dreams of falcons and sightings of real ones during the past year.¬† And for some reason angels have been coming into my work and consciousness.

My kids were kind enough to pose for a photo shoot a few weeks back. Mostly I was after their hands but I had my son do this pose and this piece just kind of flowed naturally out of it.

The falcon, amongst other things, is significant as a symbol for life’s purpose. My dream falcon was very large and white – I’ll try to make this one look like him once I start filling him in.

One thing I really like about Photoshop is that if you just don’t like where you’re heading, you can save the file under another name, delete whatever layers aren’t working out, and keep going with the original drawing or whatever you had that was working – like going back in time and taking a different route.¬† (Physicists now tell us the concept of progressive time is an illusion, and being able to work this way makes that seem plausible!) ūüôā

My first attempt was started before my daughter opened my eyes to some of the possibilities of the medium. I was liking it until I realized how I could have approached it – then did the time warp trick and came up with something I am liking even better!¬† I’ll post again when it’s done.

Angel illustration, unfinished
My first (primitive) attempt at the angel.

Did you enjoy this post? Anne

Deer Painting: Forest Spirit

Deer painting in watercolor
"Forest Spirit", watercolor deer painting

Last weekend we spent some time on a rural property we own in southwest Wisconsin.  One morning I bushwhacked to the far corner of the property to pick nettles and came upon two deer in the woods.  The doe looked at me curiously for the longest time, even after the buck had gone with a flash of white tail.

I’ve noticed that deer are often quite curious about human visitors to their domain.¬† Last Spring Equinox I attended an early morning ritual in the woods on Rib Mountain near Wausau.¬† On the way back down afterwards we came upon a similar small group of deer.¬† They, too, were extremely curious about these strange creatures on two legs and didn’t seem at all alarmed at our bemused chatting.¬† A cheeky red squirrel’s chatter, however, sent them bounding out of sight!

Did you enjoy this post? Anne

Tiger Painting

Tiger painting in watercolor
"Tiger," watercolor on board, 20 x 16"

The tiger represents power, strength, royalty, and ruthlessness.

We often think of ruthlessness as being a negative trait, but a certain degree of it is necessary to survive and thrive in the world.  Tiger energy can help us do what needs to be done.

Although it is a formidable creature, the tiger is also a devoted mother and can be a guardian or protective figure.¬† It’s also a symbol of wealth in some cultures.

Did you enjoy this post? Anne

Animal guides – spirit and otherwise

Me and my dog Jasmine
Me and my dog Jasmine. This was taken last summer at Seney Wildlife Refuge up in Michigan's U.P.

In my life, animals figure most often as spirit guides. ¬†They come to me in dreams, as premonitions, and of course through my art. ¬†They help me decipher the mystery of my own psyche and guide me through the swamps and deserts of life’s journey.

But it’s pretty hard to relate this way to spirit animals without inviting flesh-and-blood ones into one’s life. ¬†Right now the Michelsen roof shelters two goldfish, a couple of hooded rats and two rescued dogs, 15-year-old Pavlov and a goofy Lab-Boxer mix named Jasmine (a.k.a. The Lummox.)

This morning Jasmine proved to me that spirit animals aren’t the only ones who can guide us to what we need.

I realized the other day that it’s coming up on three years since we moved into our house and I still don’t have a full-length mirror. ¬†Which doesn’t bother my husband but darn it, it’s just not right for me! (Or my daughter Clara, who at age 11 is intent on developing her own personal ¬†style. )

(As a side note, I wonder if the mirror thing has any significance: I read somewhere that men tend to look at themselves from the face up, while women favor the full-length view.  How does it affect people spiritually to consistently  see only fractured images of themselves?)

Anyway, darn it, I need a long mirror!

Well, this morning my dogs and I were returning from our morning walk when rather than accompany me on a loose lead round the last corner home, Jasmine suddenly pulled to the right. ¬†I don’t usually let the dogs drive, but this time I thought, “what the heck” and went her way to make an extra swing around the block the long way.

Well, we’d only gone a few paces when I looked down and saw it- a perfectly good full-length mirror someone had left out with the trash.

Good dog!

The mirror had a broken frame but was otherwise in perfect condition. ¬†And I think I know a gal who can figure out how to install a frame…

Landscape painting from Seney Wildlife Refuge
No critters in this little plein aire of the Seney Refuge - but Jazz Dog helped me paint it!

Did you enjoy this post? Anne